Commitment, Love

Trust Your Gages: Navigating Storms in Marriage (part 1)

I was traveling for work recently and the flight home was one of the most surreal experiences I’ve had lately. It was a long day of travel with the last leg being a late flight, scheduled for arrival at 10pm.

Darkness coupled with foggy Seattle weather made for a particularly perilous landing…or so I thought.

Flight attendants, please prepare for landing“, the pilot announced over the speaker. The whole cabin obliged, seats popping forward, laptops tucked away in backpacks.

The plane glided along with an ominous hum. It was far too smooth and much too quiet for comfort. The clouds surrounding us created an indistinguishable haze. I felt disoriented – like the plane was in full tilt and slowing down steadily – but I had no reference point, just a dark cloudy mush.

I’m definitely a “window-watcher” on flights. I enjoy looking out while the plane takes off, lands, and cruises. This time was different. This time I was nervous.

I wondered how the pilots would be able to see the landing strip. How will they know where to land? I know it’s not an informed or rational fear. The pilots knew exactly what was going on.

How? One word: gages.

(*gage is a variant spelling for “gauge”; we’ll use the former.)

Pilots don’t worry because they have gages that are trustworthy and they trust them. No matter what they see through the window–clouds, fog, darkness, whatever– they have access to the information that matters most and they use it to guide them in.

How does this apply to marriage? In so many ways. Read on.

Peering outside

How foolish would I have been if, in that moment of worry, I panicked and sprinted toward the nearest emergency exit to escape? Very foolish. Even with a parachute, that would have been an idiotic, deadly move.

Yet many do this when their marriage gets tough. They see clouds rolling in so they panic and grasp for a parachute on their way to the nearest exit.

Marriage is like a house. When a light bulb goes out you don't buy a new house, you change the bulb.But panic doesn’t always set in instantly. What about when the “clouds” roll in slowly and gradually? What about when you’re sincerely worried for your life and the turbulence just won’t let up.

Maybe one of these examples sounds familiar?

  1. you’ve been in a dry season emotionally and you don’t feel connected – like you “don’t love each other” any more.
  2. you’re in the middle of financial difficulty and have no idea what the future holds
  3. you’ve lost your spouse’s trust or they’ve done something to lose yours, and you’re unsure of how to rebuild
  4. life is changing rapidly (new baby on the way? lost your job?) and a crash landing feels imminent
  5. your marital sex life is all but dead, and you have no clue how to revive it
  6. you argue more than you laugh, and you can’t seem to agree on anything that matters
  7. …the list could go on and on.

We’ve felt every single one of these fears or frustrations at some point in our 12+years married.

Yep. Every. Single. One. …We’ve been there.

Maybe you feel the tension right now? If you do, I’m writing this to remind you of three core things: 1) you have gages, 2) your gages are trustworthy, and 3) you need to trust them.

1: You have gages

Where do you look first when your marriage gets tough? Desperation drives us to funny and dark places. Some watch Oprah. Others drone around on the internet looking for articles (like this one) or encouraging axioms. Some turn to alcohol or other vices and escapes (pornography, drugs, overeating, to name a few).

"...love the other person for him- or herself and not just for the feelings and experiences they give us." - Tim KellerI have great news. In Christ, you never have to be desperate for anything other than him.

What specific gages do we have? Primarily, we have God’s word. The Bible is sufficient, complete, and trustworthy (we’ll discuss below). We must constantly calibrate ourselves against what God says, otherwise we will panic the second our circumstances change.

Here are a few gages to turn to before and after crisis hits:

Covenant:

What does the Bible teach about covenant? What has God promised us in Christ, and what example does he set for keeping his promises? Is God faithful? (Yes He is, by the way.) Is your marriage covenant worth keeping? Does God really want you to honor your marital covenant through hard times?

God’s word is rich with covenantal examples of love and reminders of how important it is to keep the marital covenant.

Start with 2 Timothy 2:13:

“If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.”

More: Luke 16:18, Malachi 2:14, Exodus 34:6, Deut 7:9, 1 Thess 5, Hebrews 6

Love:

What is it really? What example of love do we have in Christ? How does this affect how we love our spouse in all circumstances? How does knowing God’s grace in Christ affect our expectations of our spouses?

You don't fall into love, you commit to it. Love is saying I will be there no matter what.Christ is our most vivid example of love and his relationship with the Church looks like how our marriages should look.

Start with Ephesians 4:2:

“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.”

More: Ephesians 4-5, 1 Corinthians 13, John 3

Provision and protection:

How has God promised to protect, guide, and provide for you? How do you make sense of bad circumstances in light of God’s sovereignty and grace? How is God’s eternal view vastly superior to our own?

You must know that God is always… ALWAYS… with you. He’s guiding you and will protect and provide for you. This will provide peace in every storm.

Start with Philippians 4:6-7:

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”

More: John 14:27, Matt 5:26-30, Isaiah 40: 30-31

Of course, these few are just the beginning. The point I’m trying to make is that we must look to God’s word as our authority when times get tough in life and marriage. Without Him and the certainty only He provides, we’re destined to crash the second the weather turns.

2: Your gages are trustworthy

Just like the pilots flying the plane that night, you must know your gages are accurate and reliable. I mentioned above that the Bible is your main gage. That’s with the assumption that it’s true and trustworthy. It’s circular reasoning to quote 2 Timothy 3:16 here (“All Scripture is God-breathed…”), because if you don’t trust the Bible you won’t trust that verse!

No matter what, we're in this until the end.

Click to share.

How do we know the Bible a reliable gage? That’s a big question with a bigger answer. The Holy Spirit gives us faith to know 100% of the way. But we do have great evidence to get us started down our roads of faith. I know that learning about the Bible and its origins has proven very helpful to me in my own journey.

Now, this is a marriage blog and I’m no theologian. But I don’t want to leave you hanging. Here are some great resources to learn more about the authenticity, reliability, and authority of the Bible (Systematic Theology has been blowing my mind for over a year now… FYI):

  1. Christian Theologies of Scripture (ed. Justin Holcomb)
  2. Systematic Theology (Wayne Grudem) (specifically, Chapters 3-8)
  3. Evidence that Demands a Verdict (Josh McDowell)

To be continued…

This post got long, sorry about that. I’ll share the 3rd point in my next post. Stay tuned!

Meanwhile, feel free to leave a comment with your thoughts and/or questions below.

Questions:
What storm has your marriage faced recently?
How have you navigated through with God’s help?

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